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AFCON 2019: Eagles’ Bronze like gold to me -Rohr

By George Aluo

Super Eagles manager, Gernot Rohr, may not have met the expectation of Nigerians, who wanted him to win AFCON 2019 with the Eagles, but the coach left Egypt a very happy man.

The coach, after the third place game against the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia, told The Nigerian Xpress Sports that the bronze won by his young side was like winning gold to him. He thumbed up his players whom he said approached every game with determination.

The Franco-German tactician noted that the bronze won in Egypt was his first AFCON medal, insisting that it could only get better.

“I have coached in a few other African countries. This is not my first AFCON. I led Gabon and Burkina Faso to this same tournament, winning nothing. But here I am with a bronze with this young Nigerian team. I am happy, very happy,” Rohr said.

The coach, who took charge of the Eagles three years ago, said he was particularly happy to have beaten Alain Giresse, the Tunisian coach, who was his team mate in Boudreaux, France, for ten years.

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“Giresse, as coach of Mali, beat me when I was coaching Gabon. We lost that game via penalty. He also beat my team in another friendly. But in this AFCON third place game, I am happy to have beaten him to win bronze for Nigeria. He (Giresse) is my good friend. We played together as team mates for ten years in Boudreaux before going into coaching and finding ourselves in Africa,” Rohr revealed.

Rohr said his players did well in Egypt, giving them a part on the back for always fighting back in difficult situations. “When we lost to Madagascar, so many people wrote off the team, but they regained their confidence and played like wounded lions against Cameroon. We were down against Cameroon and the boys reacted well to win. Against South Africa, they showed the same mental strength and fought till the last minute. We were to a large extent unlucky against Algeria in the semi final, losing no thanks to a last minute kick. My players wanted the game against Algeria to go into extra time where they feel Algeria would be tired. But that plan failed to work out because of Mahrez magic. That is football, but on the whole I am proud of my players,” Rohr said.

It would be noted that Eagles bounced back to win bronze in Egypt 2019 after missing out of two consecutive AFCONS in 2015 and 2017 in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, respectively.

The Eagles played in Egypt with a 23-man squad that had only three players that had previously featured in the biannual tournament. Apart from the trio of Captain Mikel Obi, Kenneth Omeruo and Ahmed Musa, all the other Super Eagles players in Egypt were AFCON debutants.